music 2.jpg

Lately I've been seeing many posts on social media where people are upset that their videos have been taken down for copyright reasons. A lot of times it's people who have credited the artist and don't have any intention of "stealing" the song, and that's why it's upsetting to them.

I have done a little bit of research on copyright just for the sake of making sure I'm doing my own work legally, and I actually took a business law class in college (fun fact: I almost got a second bachelor's degree in Business Management, and then changed it to a minor so that I could start Crea), so that makes me an expert, right? 

Just kidding -- this is not official legal advice, but I do have a few tips for you if your music has been taken down for copyright reasons.

1. CREDITING THE ARTIST DOES NOT MAKE IT LEGAL TO USE THE MUSIC: That's kind of like if Walmart wanted to use my photo for a billboard and just decided to do it without asking me, but added "@creabyjulie" to the bottom of the photo. That would totally not be ok with me -- they should be paying me for that!! You might not think it's a big deal if you don't have as many followers as Walmart does, but that's why the law was created, and it seems pretty fair.

2. JUST BECAUSE INSTAGRAM/YOUTUBE DOESN'T TAKE IT DOWN, DOESN'T MEAN IT'S LEGAL: If you're hoping to eventually grow on Instagram your best bet is to do everything legally (obviously) even if you could probably get away with a few songs here and there that aren't licensed. I have heard of big influencers facing horrible lawsuits for little things like this that they probably did thinking it wasn't a big deal! But don't panic, there are many great, legal options, which leads me to numbers 3, 4 and 5.

3. THERE ARE A FEW "FAIR USE" EXCEPTIONS: I'm not as familiar with these so doing some of your own research is a good idea, but basically if you're only using a tiny portion of the song or if it's linked to the original artist (and not to your own work), you might be ok. The whole point of the law is to make sure people can't listen to the artist's work in a way that doesn't allow the artist to monetize from it and to make sure that you can't monetize from someone else's work. So there are technically a few times that you can use music without a license, but a lot of this is kind of gray, so I try to stay away from it as much as possible! 

4. HOW TO USE MUSIC LEGALLY: Get a license. That's pretty much the only guaranteed way! Music either needs to be part of the public domain (you can find that list here and use any of it without a license, for free) or you need to have a license. Licenses can be expensive, but if you see "royalty free" music, that usually means the license is free and you can use it for whatever you want. YouTube and Soundcloud are great ways to find royalty free music. 

If you have a small budget and you need to use licensed music often (me!), I love the site Epidemic Sound. They have really good music that doesn't sound too "free" including songs with lyrics and without. I pay for the YouTube license which is $15/month and allows me unlimited downloads for use strictly on my own YouTube channel (for videos without ads/paid posts).  You can buy more expensive licenses if you want to use the music for other things too, but that cheapest one works perfectly for me!

If you're not using music very often and have a small budget, I recommend the site Audio Jungle. It's kind of a step up from some of the free music, and it's usually only $20 for a pretty versatile, basic license.

If you have a medium to large budget or are willing to splurge a little sometimes for great quality, your best bet is Music Bed! They have some well known pop artists (s/o to Ben Rector!) and lots of other really good music, but instead of paying monthly, you pay per song. Their cheapest licenses, which are probably all you need for an unpaid YouTube video, are around $50 per song. If you're running an ad on your YouTube, that's a whole other story for all of these options, but most of the sites I listed have options for anything you're doing -- you just need to pay more for the license if you're making money off of the use of the music. 

Another fun option: Ask your friends or followers to send in some of their own original music! 

Hope these tips help you out with some of the confusion and frustration and give you some good options for how to use music legally. Good luck!